Friday, July 15, 2016

Rally for Education Justice—Are We Winning? | The Progressive

Rally for Education Justice—Are We Winning? | The Progressive:

Rally for Education Justice—Are We Winning?

 With the sound of jet engines booming overhead, a crowd of about 800 people gathered at the Lincoln Memorial last week to advocate for “the people’s education.”  The People’s March for Public Education and Social Justice took place in the middle of a political “no-fly” zone in Washington, DC. Democrats and Republicans alike have largely avoided the issues raised by the People’s March. But at the grassroots level, the backlash against bipartisan, corporate education reform has grown too big to ignore.  High-stakes testing, crackdowns on teachers unions, and the massive growth of privately controlled charter schools that undermine local neighborhood schools—especially in low-income, non-white communities—drove hundreds of activists to come out and protest.

Speakers including education historian Diane Ravitch and best-selling author and education justice advocate Jonathan Kozol denounced the assault on teachers and students taking place in schools, calling out a culture of "test and punish" that strips teachers of their professionalism and robs children of the joys of learning.
North Carolina's Reverend William Barber, of the Moral Monday Movement, and Keron Blair, who directs the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools also spoke, placing the fight to save public schools firmly in the intersection of civil rights and social justice movements represented by Black Lives Matter, Fight for $15, and other popular progressive causes.
All agreed that current education policies—often referred to as “reforms”—impose a mandate from policy elites and wealthy foundations that are blind to the impacts  of their ideas on school communities, and deaf to the voices of those who oppose them. The group called for equitable funding across all public schools, an end to high-stakes testing, strong local leadership, and support for professional, qualified, and committed teachers.
Since the early days of the Obama administration, the pushback against prevailing education policies coming from the Beltway has been an inconvenient noise in the Democratic Party. Once it became apparent that the Obama Administration would maintain a “Washington consensus” on the education policies it inherited from George W. Bush, Rally for Education Justice—Are We Winning? | The Progressive:

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